"The crowns of their babtum": on wives, wards, and witnesses.
BM 80989 (Bu. 91-5-9, 1127) Date: Sd 04/09/01 Size: 48 x 47 x 23mm Receipt of silver for the performance of ilku-work; witnesses include Samas, Aya, and divine emblems of "their babtum." KEY: [degrees] = erasure [much less than] = supru-marks
obv. [[.sup.d]AMAR.UTU-m]u-sa-lim pa-le-[is.sub.8]. tar
[degrees] DUMU.MES [.sup.d]SES.KI-MA.AN.SUM
5. DAM a-wi-il-[.sup.d]EN.ZU
U [sup.mi]be-el-ta-ni MAN
DAM [degrees] [KA]-[sup.d]a-am-ma-a
sa i-li-ik-su i-il-la-ka
10. [.sup.m]i-lu-ni UM.MI.A
1.e. a-na KA.KESDA a-na MU 1.KAM
rev. KA.KESDA MU 1.KAM.MA
2/3 GIN 15 SE KU.BABBAR
IGI [.sup.d]UTU IGI [.sup.d]a-a
IGI 2 AGA sa [.sup.d]UTU U [.sup.d]AMAR.UTU
__sa DAG.G[I.sub.4].A-si-na! __
20. ITI GAN.GAN.E [U.sub.4] 1.KAM
u.e. [M]U sa-am-su-di-ta-na LUGAL.E
left edge: (1) [much less than] KISIB be-el-ta-ni
(2) [much less than] KISIB be-el-ta-ni
Marduk-musallim, Pale-Istar, and Mar-Ajamma, the sons of Nanna-mansum, were hired out to Iluni the ummanu, for the contractual price of one year, by Beltani, the wife of Awil-Sin, and Beltani--a second one--the wife of Awat-Ajamma, (both) sons of Nanna-mansum, who are responsible (i.e., the women: illaka) for the performance of his (i.e., Nanna-mansum's) ilku-service. They (fem.) received the contractual price of one year, 2/3 sekels, 15 se silver. Before Samas, before Aya, before Suhumtim, before the two crowns of Samas and Marduk of their (fem., i.e., the sisters') babtum. Month 9, Day 1. Samsuditana Year 4.
The text is not a house rental, contra Leichty et al. 1988: 247.
The kisib epigraphs on the left edge appear directly next to double supru-marks.
1.6: MAN = sanu, "another one, a second one," obviously to clarify to any disbelieving reader that there were indeed two women named Beltani involved.
1.7: The partial erasure before the KA sign leaves traces suggesting the scribe began to write either the DAM sign again, or a conflation of DAM and KA. The DN Ajamma otherwise occurs in OB onomastica in the PN Mar-Ajamma; Awat-Ajamma is, to my knowledge, a unique personal name.
11. 8-9: DUMU.MES PN here refers to the husbands, and not to the wives (i.e., as "daughters-in-law"). However, the 2.f.pl. durative illaka specifies that the obligation of Nanna-mansum's ilku-duty lies on the wives--whether originally, or by force of this new arrangement--and not their husbands. On syntactic and contextual grounds, we can rule out Iluni as the referent of -su in iliksu.
1.15: It is also possible to read ma-hi-ra, but mahra seems the more likely form; note that /ah/ and /hi/ are sometimes poorly distinguished from each other in this period.
1.17: The onomastic form Suhumtim is unattested. A less likely option, but not impossible is [[la.sup.?]]-hu-um-tim. Cf. CAD L s.v. lahmu s., '(hairy) monster' or the like; such beings were associated with Marduk and thus might belong in a list with other witnessing deities. Lahumtim, however, is also unattested, and the line lacks space for a preceding DINGIR sign.
1.18: Two crowns for two deities rather than a single "double-crown" is the most likely interpretation; see n. 49 below.
1.19: This abbreviated paleography of the /na/sign is normal for Late OB texts; it should not be confused with /an/, the writing of which is emphasized with very long, extended horizontal strokes; compare /an/ signs in 11. 2, 3, 7, 8, 16, 18, and 22.
The writing is perfectly legible, and in its main purpose the text is quite straightforward: two women--who are not nadiatu--receive silver in payment for the hired labor of three men, all of them related to the lessors as brothers-in-law, to perform the ilku-service of their father, presumably deceased; the text is witnessed by two divinities, one unidentified agent, and two divine emblems. Yet these briefly stated conditions are peculiar in their own right, in two different respects: first, in the appearance of the women as lessors for the labor of brothers-in law; second, in the appearance of divine emblems, the crowns of Samas and Marduk, in three distinct senses: 1) in the crowns' situation as witnesses stricto sensu, rather than as objects upon which oaths were sworn or testimony delivered; 2) in the apparent legal and theological redundance of Samas and his crown appearing simultaneously; 3) in that the crowns are said to belong to the ward (babtum)--and specifically to the ward of the wives (babtisina). I'll address these peculiarities in three imperfectly bounded senses: the functional-situational, the legal, and the theological.
THE TEXT'S PEOPLE AND PRACTICES
Three practical details warrant brief recognition before we get to the larger issues presented by the text. First, two pairs of fingernail impressions on the left edge appear next to the names of the Beltani's. Second, the scribe of the text was kind enough to take the trouble to clarify that there are indeed two different Beltani's in the text by adding kun'i in 1. 6. Third, we have two previously unattested personal name forms here, Awat-Ajamma (1.7) and Suhumtim (1) (1.17).
No archival setting for the text can be established at this time. Only one of the actors in this text can be even possibly identified in other texts. (2) The Awil-Sin to whom the first Beltani is married may be the same man known from two substantially earlier documents, both also from Sippar. In both of these texts, he appears as a purchaser in credit sales: (3) the first of these texts is BM 81239 (Ad 26), in which Awil-Sin receives palace wool from the well-known UGULA DAM.GAR Ilsuibni; (4) the second text is VS 29 55 (As 05), drafted eighteen years before our present text, in which Awil-Sin receives silver as capital for the purchase of grain. (5) Assuming that the Awil-Sin of the earlier (Ad 26) text was at least eighteen years old, and that he was the same person. he would have reached age fifty or more by the time our text was drafted in Sd 04. (6) But even this would not tell us much more than that the principals were in middle age; we really cannot say more about any of these people on present evidence, not even to explain the unusual homonymity of the Beltani's.
An archival approach to the text thus leads to a dead end. Perhaps a generic approach can help. The text discusses subjects common to the period--ilku-payments and labor hires--but their co-occurrence is actually unique. Can we find comparanda? (7) In terms of text types, we could look at the text as essentially either a receipt for ilku-silver (as it technically is), or as the satisfaction of a contract of hire (which it suggests). Let us begin with the first document type: no other receipt for ilku-silver from this period--twenty-six have been published (see Table 1) (8)--establishes labor as the medium of exchange occasioning the delivery of that silver. (9) The performance of ilku by a substitute was theoretically prohibited where military service was concerned (CH [section]26), but this contract more likely refers to corvee work, for which the alienation of a service obligation was permitted. 10
Table 1. Late Old Babylonian Ilku-silver Receipts Text Prov Date Witnesses Ami. Hire? Other Silver Provisiun BE 6/1 Sippar Ae none 1.5 no none 71 gin BE 6/1 Sippar Ae 2PNs 3 gin no none 73 Biroi Sippar As none 2/3 gin no ana sudmmim RA 62. 15 Se nadnu 25 BM Sippar As 2PNs 2 gin no SA KU.BABBAR 16598 ilik PN BM Sippar As none 1-2/3 no SA KU.BABBAR 16665A gin ilkisu BM Sippar As none 12 gin no SA KU.BABBAR 17147 ilkisu BM Sippar As none 112 no SA KU.babbar 17257 gin ilkisu BM Sippar Ad 2PNs 2 gin no SA KU.BABBAR 80814 ilkim BM Sippar Ad none 9 gin no (BTA[G.sub.4] 81276 KU.BABBAR BM Sippar As none 1/2 no SA KU.BABBAR 81476 gin ilkisu CT4 Sippar Ad none 1 5/6 no ana sudunnim 15a gin nadnu KD5 Haradum Ae 3PNs 2 gin no Sa ilik GN/sa mehrim sa PN OECT 13 uncertain As none 1/3 no none 131 gin OLA 21 Kis As none 6 gin no for 6 months' 50 worth of ilku TJDB Dilbat As 2 PNs. GIR 112 no none 145 PN gin VS 22 Babylon As none; GIR 1 gin no SA ilik 65 PN P[N.sub.1] U P[N.sub.2]/GIR P[N.sub.3] VS 7 Dilbat As 2PNs 2 gin no none 115 VS 7 Dilbat As NOB 1/2 no none 116 gin VS 7 Dilbat As none 3gin no GIR diki 121 Walker Sippar Ae igi (d)UTU 3 gin no none AfO /igi 24.124 (d)a-a/ igi PN DUB.SAR YOS 13 Dilbat Ad 2PNs 3 gin no [sa] qati 290 YOS 13 Dilbat As none 3 gin < no gimer ilik Sa 341 total) qdtiSunu YOS 13 Kis Sd 2PNs 3gin no gamer iliksu 360 YOS 13 Dilbat Ad none 1gin no Ina qati PN 366 YOS 13 KiS As 2PNs 2 gin no IB.TA[G.sub.4] 443 ilik PN YOS 13 Dilbat Ad none: GIR 5 gin no none 61 PN
Our text actually deals with even less than the modest amounts of silver usually delivered for ilku. The payments normally range between 1/2 and 12 GIN KU.BABBAR, averaging about three shekels; our text stipulates less than one shekel (a little over six grams, about the weight of a nickel), close to that of the smallest similar transaction. Despite the modesty of this amount, the contract offers the labor of not one, but three replacements, and the tablet is heavily authorized in comparison to other receipts. Of these twenty-six ilku tablets, only nine are witnessed; two more are expedited (GIR) by an official; one more is both witnessed and expedited. (11) In only one case are gods among the witnesses (igi D[N.sub.1]/igi D[N.sub.2]/igi PN DUB.SAR), (12) and nowhere as the objects of an oath; in no cases are emblems mentioned at all. The contrast with our text is stark: in terms of silver, the document is a pocket-change transaction with big-deal witnesses. Why?
The text is also unique among these silver receipts in presenting an ilku-payment as a family affair. The ilku-obligation of BM 80989 is said to rest on the women (1. 9, illaka against illiku), presumably transferred from the deceased (or so I assume) Nanna-mansum (Sa iliksa). But in no other ilku-receipt does a woman (or, indeed, any family member) act on behalf of or in concert with another family member. Yet, if here we have a case in which the transference of a service obligation between family members is made explicit, it still brings more questions than answers. Why did the text not trouble to specify that Nanna-mansum was dead (a not uncommon feature)? Why did the obligation pass to the daughters-in-law, and not, apparently, to any of the five sons? And if this was an obligation incumbent upon the family, what circumstances made it necessary for an outside third party to satisfy the obligation by providing the ilku-silver in exchange for labor? In sum, all other known receipts for ilku-silver are relatively simple payment documents, against which our terse little text already presents a more elaborate background.
If we look at our text as the satisfaction of a hire (which technically it is not), we could look at hire texts as well. Since these texts are more numerous--forty-six in all (see Table 2) (13)--we might feel it twice as likely that some parallels could emerge. But among these hire texts, there is no mention of ilku; no gods or emblems act as witnesses or objects of oaths; (14) no men are hired out by their sisters or sisters-in-law (or wives, for that matter). (15) Women do appear as lessors in at least nine cases (20%): twice, the lessor is the hiree's mother; (16) twice, the lessor is the naditu owner of a slave; (17) three more times, the lessor is a naditu, without either family relationship or ownership status to the hiree specified; (18) in two more cases, the female lessor is unrelated to the hiree. (19)
Table 2. Late Old Babylonian Hiring Contracts Text No. Origin Date Witnesses Lessor BBVOT 1 80 unknown As 2PN unrelated woman BDHP 17 Sippar Ad I PN self BDHP47 Sippar Ad 3  naditu BE 6/1 107 Sippar As 2PN father BIN 7 210 Dilbat As 3 FN master (1.9) BM 17039 Sippar As broken brother BM 79978 Sippar As 2[DN?] self BM 80346 Sippar- As 4 PN brother Amnuntim BM 81285 Sippar Ad 2 PN brother BM 81320 Sippar Ad unwitnessed self BM 81424 Sippar Ad 2 PN father BM 97463 Sippar Ad 2 PN mother BM 97466 Sippar As 2 PN self BM 97543 Sippar As 2PN self CT33 32 Sippar Ad 3PN master CT 48 116 Sippar AS 2 PN muster CT48 95 Sippar Ad 1PN nadliu Friedrich BA 5/4 Sippar ? 3 PN brother 32 Goetze JCS 11 Sippar As? 2 PN father 29 PBS 8/2 196 Sippar As 2 PN self Sollbcrgcr JCS Sippar Ac 2 PN master 5 95b? Sollbergtr JCS Sippar Ae 3 PN unrelated 5 97b woman SVJAD 38 Dilbat As 2 PN master TJDB 122f. Sippar As 2 PN unspecified TLOB22 Sippar Ad 2 PN mistress naditu TLOB 25 Sippar Ad 2 PN naditu Van Soldt/Stol Unkn. Ae 3 PN broken JEOL25 51 VS 7 144 Dilbat As unwitnessed brother VS7 47 Dilbat Ac 2+PN unrelated man VS7 6I Dilbat Ad unwitnessed self VS7 83 Dilbat As 2 brother VS 7 87 Dilbat As 3 PN self VS9 220 Babylon Ae 2 PN master? YOS 13 20 Kis As 1 PN father YOS 13 207 KiS As 3 PN mother YOS 13 219 KiS sd 2 PN master YOS 13 293 Sippar Ad 2 PN father YOS 13 361 unkn. Sd 2 PN Self? YOS 13 381 KiS Ad unwitnessed brother YOS 13 385 Sippar As 2 PN Mistress (naditu) YOS 13 442 Dilbat As broken self YOS 13 486 Sjppar Ac 2 PN father YOS 13 487 unkn. Ac 4 PN self YOS 13 497 Supur-Subula Ad 1 PN father YOS 13 74 Dilbat As 2 PN brother YOS 13 78 Dilbat As I PN Father (*?) Text No. Silver/ Hire for Pay Dku? BBVOT 1 80 amt unkn. broken/ unclear BDHP 17 1/3 gin silver idesu ilikki BDHP47 3gin no BE 6/1 107 1/4 gin silver idesu ilikki BIN 7 210 (as loan) no BM 17039 3 gin no BM 79978 10 2/3 gin no BM 80346 grain no BM 81285 8 gin nu BM 81320 1 gin no BM 81424 broken none visible BM 97463 2/3 gin? no BM 97466 broken none visible BM 97543 8 gin no CT33 32 9 gin no CT 48 116 (Strain) no CT48 95 2-1/6 gin no Friedrich BA 5/4 l/4 gin no, kosri 32 Goetze JCS 11 1/3 gin no 29 PBS 8/2 196 1 gin (+ no, food) inifum? Sollbcrgcr JCS 4 gin no 5 95b? Sollbergtr JCS 2/3 gin no 5 97b SVJAD 38 2/3 gin ( + no food) TJDB 122f. 2/3 gin no TLOB22 2 gin no TLOB 25 (grain) no Van Soldt/Stol 6-1/2 gin no JEOL25 51 VS 7 144 (food) no VS7 47 10 gin no VS7 6I (grain?) no VS7 83 1-1/6 gin no VS 7 87 (grain) no VS9 220 ami unkn. no, kisru YOS 13 20 6 gin no YOS 13 207 6 gin no YOS 13 219 (grain?) no YOS 13 293 (grain) no/ broken YOS 13 361 amt unkn. no YOS 13 381 (grain) no YOS 13 385 (grain) no YOS 13 442 broken no/ broken YOS 13 486 (grain) no YOS 13 487 4 gin no YOS 13 497 1-2/3 gin no YOS 13 74 (grain) no YOS 13 78 broken no
The hiring-out of family members is well enough attested that the broad implications seem clear: (20) this was an uncommon role for women in the first instance, (21) but when women did appear as lessors in hire texts, they usually had some clear household authority over the hiree--mothers hired out sons, and mistresses hired out slaves--priorities which the Beltani's did not have in this case. We can also rule out the idea that the text merely required the names of the Beltani's to appear purely for formal purposes--that is, by some internal logic of contract law or scribal practice, some name--any name--was required to be listed as principal, where the name of the real lessor for some reason could not be given. But since self-hires were the single most common method of hire, followed closely by hires by brothers, it is impossible to see why in this case any of the five sons of Nanna-mansum could not have acted in this capacity. (22)
The rarity of mothers, wives, and sisters as lessors of course reflects the rarity of households under the legal authority of women altogether. The few businesswomen of the era usually either had some situationally independent legal status--widows, nadiatu, etc. (23)--or they acted in concert with their fathers or husbands. Neither situation pertains in the case of the Beltani's. Are we to understand that by some dire circumstance or unorthodox inheritance the Beltani's were in fact the heads of household? The closest comparable case to my knowledge comes from Late Bronze Age Emar, where daughters could be legally established as "sons" and widows as "fathers" (24)--but only in inheritance documents, and never with a lateral, same-generation inversion of legal power. i.e., of wives over husbands or sisters over brothers. (25)
We might be tempted to explain this unusual text by pointing to a growing lack of uniformity in all kinds of documentary practices in Samsuditana's reign, as the Babylonian state slowly unraveled. In this regard, we could note that BM 80989 is, in fact, the latest-dated receipt for ilku-silver known. (26) But the text itself indicates that a wealth of legal institutions and practices still held force: contracts, the temple. the city ward, witnessing, and the implied royal obligation to deliver ilku all still structured the legal environment. We must conclude that these women had at least situational household authority over their brothers-in-law and. implicitly, their husbands. Awil-Sin and Awat-Ajamma. Moreover, within the framework of this document, the designation of the babtum as "their" ward--that is, the sisters' ward--implies that their household authority was recognized at the level of the community.
The case thus backs up Ray Westbrook's dictum that "Legal capacity was ... more a function of one's position in the household than of one's sex or age." (27) It may further be, as Van De Mieroop has argued, that our text merely makes explicit what other texts do not--that some people whose gender we cannot clearly identify by onomastics, whom "we consider to have been men were actually women." (28) Nevertheless, it was probably the unusual social configuration of the case--in both gender and generation--that precipitated the text's other unusual features, the presence of the divine emblems and the beibtum--and we can now turn our attention to these anomalies.
THE LEGAL SITUATION OF THE TEXT
The appearance of the gods as witnesses--especially Samas and Aja--is well known in Sippar texts of this time, and these divine names are sometimes also followed by the names of human witnesses. (29) But BM 80989 violates the canonical order god-human; what should we make of the order god-human-emblem? It may be that the emblems stand in the final (textual) position in the witness list usually occupied by scribes of record in other contracts and legal documents--but without comparanda, we are in the dark here.
There are four further challenges for analysis. One, even among known emblems, the appearance of the crowns of gods--as opposed to the more common divine "weapons" or "standards"--is unique. Two, the identification of the emblems as belonging to "their city quarter" (babtisina) has no immediate parallels. To lean too heavily on the little preposition not without its ambiguities, seems insufficient to settle beyond the shadow of a doubt the crucial ownership/custodianship questions raised, but the plain reading is that "crowns of their ward" means that the women's ward owned the crowns. To these first two problems we will return shortly.
A third problem: though oaths taken and testimony delivered on divine emblems are both well-attested practices, (30) emblems acting as witnesses (i.e., designated by IGI) is not. I am not aware of any other case in which emblems are said to have been (active) witnesses rather than the passive objects upon which principals and witnesses swore oaths. (31) The importance of this distinction is difficult to evaluate. This may be nothing more than a formal variation of a general practice in which (human) witnesses swore oaths to the validity of transactions or testimony. On the other hand, it may point to a fully anthropomorphized role for both gods and emblems in oath practices. (32) Again we can come to no certain conclusions, but it is worth pointing out the potential significance of substituting the thing normally sworn upon for the agent doing the swearing.
The fourth and most curious aspect of the presence of the emblems, however, is that of their seeming redundancy: since we normally assume that an emblem of a god implies his presence pars pro toto, why was it necessary to have both Samas and his crown attending the same proceeding? (33) We know of many instances in which divine symbols were used away from the temple, on which more below, but we assume in those cases that the objects implied the presence of the deity with which they were identified--a divine standard of Sin, a divine bird of Ninmarki, a divine spade of Marduk, etc. (34) Their divinity may be anticipated from the cases in which the emblems were identified by the determinative DINGIR (in both Sumerian and Akkadian writings, though there was little consistency in written practice). And this divinity, in turn, we might suppose derived from their essentially synechdochic relationship to various gods, i.e., as parts or possessions of these deities. But in this case, the simultaneous witnessing of Samas and his crown reveals that these entities were perceived as neither duplicative nor derived--that emblems possessed specific powers in their own right. (35)
But this still does not explain why both the god and the emblem were needed in this particular case (there are also religious-symbolic implications of this simultaneity--see below--but I will first attend to the legal ones). The physical and social location of the proceeding, and the multiple institutions represented, suggest that the overlapping symbolism was a solution to overlapping jurisdictions--i.e., in the coincidence of the babtum and external authorities. This jurisdictional extensibility was probably true for all legal uses of divine emblems--they were all used in places exterior to the temple--at city gates, in courts, for tax-collection in rural areas. But in three known contexts, divine emblems were used in legal proceedings specific to city quarters: (36)
BE 6/2 58: 1 (Nippur): (37) urudu.sita Ninurta ma babtim izzizma sibatusu izzizama, "The mace of Ninurta was present in the ward and the pertinent (lit: his) female witnesses were also present."
BE 6/1 103: 33 (Sippar): (38) ema sa i-im 2 surinnu sa Samas [anal dag.gi.a urduma ukinsu, "Wherever ..., two emblems of Samas went down [to] the ward and he (i.e., the guilty party) installed (them) there."
RA 25 43: 5 (provenance unknown): surinnam rabam sa Sin uses[iu] babtum u itasu izzizuma, "They took out the great symbol of Sin; the ward and its neighbors(?) (39) took up a position."
One wishes that among the comparanda there were more unanimity of language, since each text uses a different verb to describe how an emblem came to stand in the city quarter--in what sense they were "taken out," "installed," or came to "be present." (40) Since our text uniquely identifies the emblems as belonging to the women's ward (sa babtisina) and not to the temple. a question must also be raised about where such emblems were quartered: it is not clear that emblems were necessarily always housed within a temple, (41) and it is interesting to speculate that they might have been kept as the reliquiae of neighborhood shrines, the holy objects of the neighborhood. (42) Indeed, one of the most secure archaeological contexts for Old Babylonian emblems is that of two marble mace heads recovered in situ from No. 1 Church Street in Ur, a neighborhood "chapel" also containing plaques, statues, and a pedestal or altar--and the mace heads were "inscribed with the text 'property of (the god) Hendursag."
BE 6/1 103 provides an interesting clue in connection with this question of location. Though a full translation has eluded its editors (and this author), the clause does begin with ema. "wherever," implying variability of place--of situational practice, that installation sites could be subject to the needs of the moment. (43) At a minimum, what seems important about emblems in the abstract is their mobility and appropriateness to specific civic spaces away from temples--in their capacity for phenomenological impact.
Why did the babtum need such emblems? The legal role of the babtum in relation to other authoritative units is not well understood. Norman Yoffee thought that the babtum-institution was marked primarily by regulation of its own membership, "especially concerned with the allocation of special roles and property" among a group composed of associated "households" (i.e., t PN). (44) Unfortunately, hard evidence for the babtum as an institution is scarce. Andrea Seri, having made an exhaustive study of local juridical bodies, concludes that "although the city ward was probably a relatively independent authority, it rarely appears with the local powers considered in this study." (45)
One wonders if the word "although" ought to be replaced here with "because": because of its autonomous nature, it rarely interacted with other institutions. What could have brought these units together in this case? It is difficult to divine what interest the temple would have had in either family business or ilku-payments, the latter a concern of the Crown. The answer seems to lie in the fact that BM 80989 deals with social circumstances outside of community norm--the exercise of household authority by women over men--necessitating multiple levels of authorization, especially that of the neighborhood. That the women acted outside of normal social practices might have rendered the transaction more than usually susceptible to challenge, and thus the document required adjudication at multiple levels--by household, temple, and ward--even though the latter regulated only internal affairs, normally outside of the sphere of textuality. The intersection of jurisdictions and questions of social custom required both ward and temple to step into the affair. (46)
This conjecture about bending social norms is borne out by two of the three babtum-and-emblem cases cited above: in BE 6/2 58 a groom is suspected of jilting his bride, and in RA 25 43 a family attempts to reclaim a dissolved paternal estate within a ward. In both cases, one could imagine neighborhood customs and tempers being offended. In the third case (BE 6/1 103), however, it is hard to see any implication of social custom: the text deals with litigation between private parties and authorities from Babylon about muktibi/tu-tax, (47) adjudicated by the judges of Sippar. The question of custom and community must therefore remain unresolved for now.
Still, our text highlights that divine emblems were symbols particular to individual parts of the city and countryside, and not universal symbols of temple power everywhere. Two implications emerge from this observation. The first is that individual communities were bound to larger institutions through their custodianship of sacred objects and instrumenta recognized by temple and state--illustrating the co-existence and interplay of not only institutional and popular forms of religion, but also of "high" and "low" legal cultures. (48) The second implication is that individual wards could have varying community standards, customs, and social expectations, even when they lived under the same sets of state nomoi and the authority of the same officials.
We cannot say much about the physical appearance of these specific Sippar crowns. They were almost certainly individual crowns of the two gods rather than (somehow) a double-crown belonging to the two gods together. (49) What might the crowns have looked like? A crown of Samas, for one, is depicted on Hammurabi's stele, where the god wears a "multiple horned crown, and rays of sunlight emerge from his shoulders." This image accords well with other images of him on seal impressions, on the so-called "Sun-god Tablet," and on the Susa stele. (50) But this hardly distinguishes the Samas crown from the iconography of many other Mesopotamian gods, though a few seals reveal a small ring (or sun) shape surmounting his conical crown. (51)
The crown of Samas is poorly known from textual sources, too. The only year name of the First Dynasty of Babylon mentioning a divine crown (though many year names refer generically to unspecified "emblems" or "objects") is Apil-Sin 8--two hundred years before BM 80989 was drafted. The year 8b formula refers to a crown made for Samas of red gold; the 8a formula clarifies it as "Year in which Apil-Sin made for Samas in Babylon. the crown of heaven (AGA.AN.NA) with lapis-lazuli" (my emphasis). The location presumably excludes the possibility that this was the Sippar crown of our present text. (52)
The Marduk crown seems even less distinctive: a Kassite reference to a crown of Marduk described it as bearing salummatu, "shimmering light," as a "tall horned crown of gold and lapis lazuli, ornamented with various precious stones" (53)--but little other description is available.
In glyptic imagery, Samas and Marduk are mostly identified by entirely different types of insignia--the saw and the spade, principally--and so the individuality of the crowns seems unimportant. (54) In any event, it is impossible to know if the cult objects described in our text either were or resembled the images or terms we can cull from period sources. More likely, the two crowns appearing here were uniquely local iterations. It is virtually impossible, for instance, that the Marduk crown of this Sippar babtum was the same as the one safely tucked in the Esagila in Babylon, and this in turn casts some doubt on the identity of the Samas crown in the Ebabbar and the one in this Sippar babtum. Whether the two crowns were even modeled on those of the temple images--or to what extent--we will never know. The most that can be said is that the particularity of physically unique items owned by the ward begins to shed some light on their religious significance.
There is no particular reason to think that crowns (more than other types of objects) were symbolically appropriate to this proceeding. Divine weapons and other types of objects, not crowns, were the ones generally associated with oath-taking. In the three comparable legal contexts of babtum and emblem noted above, for instance, the divine objects took the shape of a mace and two unspecified forms. (55) One cannot say that their significant metaphorical uses alluded to either justice or community. Crowns instead played, unsurprisingly, a prominent role in kingship symbology, for both men and gods. (56) Nor does the pairing of Samas and Marduk seem especially significant here, though it is less expected than the pairing of Samas and Aya, who were routinely co-witnesses in Sippar texts. Samas and Marduk are found together in some other contexts, occasionally as the deities invoked in royal inscriptions of the dynasty; (57) some earlier year names pair these deities; (58) and a Marduk cult is attested at Sippar. (59) Perhaps the most compelling context in which the gods appear together is their near-ubiquity in northern Babylonian letters. The wish that "Samas and Marduk keep you in good health" (almost always in that order) begins so many letters that it attains an everyday quality as a common custom, the vernacular politesse of the Babylonian realm. (60) Still, no real pattern emerges to suggest that the pairing evoked any special theological authority, unless it makes oblique reference to Marduk as a representative of the King of Babylon.
As mentioned above, the simultaneous presence (but independent agencies) of Samas and his crown does not seem paradoxical. I have argued that emblems were not mere proxies for their respective gods, but numinous talismans in their own right. This point is even more strongly supported by the fact that the objects in question were the crowns of gods, since crowns were not merely, as Barbara N. Porter puts it, "tools used by anthropomorphic gods, but instead belong to the category of objects that served them as marks of their divinity or as insignia of their authority." (61) In other words, a crown's principal metaphoric purpose was to refer to the god himself rather than some function of that god, and so the simultaneity here is all the more striking.
The seeming imbalance in the representational structure also emphasizes the symbolic independence of the crowns, since there was no crown for Aya (the goddess who was on hand), but there was one present for Marduk (who was not). The crowns were not equal and reciprocal symbols brought out to meet or match the divine images; they were different witnesses for different constituencies. This particularization ought to be considered even when we find divine emblems alone and not in the company of particular gods--even if they are identified as the property of a particular god.
Following Beate Pongratz-Leisten (who follows Alfred Gell), we can usefully problematize the "representativeness" of emblems first by identifying them as "social agents," as entities which "cause events to happen in their vicinity," in Gell's words, because "in practice, people do attribute intentions and awareness to objects like cars and images of gods" (emphasis mine). (62) Next, however, comes the question of whether or not the crowns stood as what Gell understands as "primary" or "secondary" agents, the latter defined as "objective embodiments of the power or capacity to will their use [by primary agents]." (63) Were the emblems perceived as entities operating on behalf of or as extensions of their gods (i.e., as secondary agents)? Or were they seen as entities independently capable of causation? Here I think the questions are more illuminating than the possible answers, because the uncertainty of the crowns' position opens up the multiplicity of their "secondariness."
That is, if these crowns were secondary agents, to what primary agents were they secondary? To the gods? To the temple? To the babtum? To the women? To the court? Which of these proposed primary agents "distributed its agency in the causal milieu" (64) to the emblems? In my opinion, this very ambiguity was the point: between social actors and institutions, it was the special ability of objects, if only through their cryptic silence, to validate or even con-stitute (65) multiple authorities simultaneously. It was precisely in situations of social conflict where the over-particularity of laws and customs was unhelpful; the function of emblems was to permit different actors to agree concurrently, if on different premises.
If there was anything truly particular about how the objects were used, it most likely had to do with place. It is helpful to recall here the point made earlier about the uses of emblems in places outside the temple. The other major legal context in which divine emblems were used--the cumbersomely named "rental of the journey of the weapon of Samas"--was in the collection of in-kind revenues from rural communities. (66) In those cases, the emblems were rented out by the temple authorities and then carried out to farming towns by the lessees. The "weapons," by the logic of these contracts, were owned by the temple, unlike the emblems identified in BM 80989, which belonged to the ward. (67)
Building on the common feature that divine emblems were deployed to social units other than the temple, we can observe that the temple and state built out their control over exterior communities through synecdoche and mental mapping. The temple's extended network of membership and property was physicalized through the allocation--or appropriation--of specific divine instrumenta to individual places. As Tallay Oman puts it:
The weapon of Assur goes out to battle. The stamped image of the god on a standard goes to your house. But within the temple, they prefer the anthropomorphic representation of the god. This implies a hierarchy in the forms of representation. (68)
This representational hierarchy papered over the fissures between institutional, community, and household orders--those not-quite-joined segments of the state--which problematized those representational needs in the first place. Gods inhered in their images, emblems, and names in quite different capacities, but the mimesis of these simulacra suggests an unbroken identity and a theological omnipresence which may have been understood quite differently depending on whether one stood before an icon in the temple, inscribed a divine name on a tablet, or fixed the emblem of the ward before the neighborhood gate.
I thank the Trustees of the British Museum for permitting me to publish this text. All text sigla follow Pientka 1998 and the CAD (The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago): ETCSL: The Electronic Corpus of Sumerian Literature (http:\\etscl.orinst.ox.ac.uk); KD = Joannes 2006; TLOB = Richardson 2010a. My thanks to Tony Brinkman and Andrea Sen for their helpful comments on BM 80989 itself, and to Amanda Podany and Andrew Gross for their attention to drafts of this manuscript. They are not, of course, responsible for any errors and opinions herein.
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(1.) It is not entirely clear that the reconstructed [Su]humtim (1.17) indicates a person. The onomastic form is unattested, but no alternative presents itself; though one might expect a deity or a divine object to be listed here, such a reconstruction seems impossible.
(2.) It is not impossible that the Nanna-mansum s. Marduk-musallim in VS 18 31 (As 03) and YOS 13 308 (As 08) is the father of the Marduk-musallim in our text--a possible case of papponymy--but this is speculative. Extending this thinking about papponymy, Amanda Podany has pointed out to me that it is not impossible that the Nanna-mansum of 1.8 was the grandfather of the Nanna-mansum in 1.3, and thus the Beltani's were actually the great-aunts rather than the sisters-in-law of the hired men. For neither of these two cases, unfortunately, is there any supporting--or confounding--evidence.
(3.) It is further possible that Awil-Sin s. Nanna-mansum is identical with the Overseer of the man: Awn-Sin s. Sin-, IR Ammisaduqa, active between As 04-14. If this patronym were to be restored as Sin-[iddinam], it might in turn be an onomastic variant of Nanna-mansum; see Tanret 1996: 193, 206. Notwithstanding, this equation seems unlikely.
(4.) L1. 1-3: 6 ma-na SIG E.GAL-li/SAM 1 GIN KU.BABBAR/KI il-su-ib-ni UGULA DAM.GAR.
(5.) Ll. 1-4: 1/2 GIN KUBABBAR/a-na SAM Se-e/KI la-ma-sa-ni LUKUR dUTU/DUMU.MUNUS Ha-ne-a-bi.
(6.) It is plausible that his primary position among his brothers indicates his seniority.
(7.) One potential objection to taking the terms of this unusual text seriously--that it is a model contract and not a real one--can be disposed of: unlike a model, this text has a witness list and a date, is fully inscribed obverse and reverse, and copies are unknown; see Bodine 2001: 41-42.
(8.) BE 6/1 71 and 73, Birot RA 62 25, BM 16598, 16665A, 17147, 17257, 80814. 81276, and 81476. CT 4 15a. KD 5 (= no. 18), OECT 13 131, OLA 21 50. TJDB 145. VS 7 115. 116, and 121. VS 2265, Truro 7 (Walker 1973: 124), YOS 13 61, 290, 341, 360, 366, and 443.
(9.) Other silver receipt documents not mentioning ilku but mentioning other types of taxes and duties have been excluded from this study, including those for IGL.SA, nemettum, miksu, zagmukki. SU.S1.IG, and kisittu.
(10.) Westbrook 2003: 368-69. Lautner (1936: 42-46) distinguished hires of occasional wage laborers ("Lohnmann. Lohnarbeiter") as rentals, identifiable by the payment of kisru (KA.KESDA), a "contractual price," from the hires of semi-free laborers ("Mietling"), mostly remunerated with idum, "wages."
(11.) Most of the receipt texts offer little contextual information-typically ma qati PN and the like; note that Birot RA 62 25 and CT 4 15a label their deliveries ana sudunnim nadnu.
(12.) Truro no. 7 (Walker 1973: 124).
(13.) BBVOT 1 80 BDHP 17 and 47. BE 6/1 107, BIN 7 210, BM 17039, 79978, 81285, 81320, 81424, 97463, 97466, and 97543, CT 33 32, CT 48 116, CT 48 95, Friedrich BA 5/4 32. Goetze JCS 11 29 (= CUA 71), PBS 8/2 196. Sollberger JCS 5 95b and 97b, SVJAD 38, TJDB 122f.. TLOB 22. 25. and 30, Van Soldt/Stol JEOL 25 51, VS 747, 61, 83, 87, and 144, VS 9 220, YOS 13 20, 74, 78, 207, 219, 293, 361, 381, 385, 442, 486, 487, and 497.
(14.) in all but six cases, between one and four human witnesses are listed. No witnesses are recorded in VS 7 61 and 144, YOS 13 381, and BM 81320; in BM 17039 and YOS 13 442, the witness list is broken away.
(15.) Lautner's broader (1936) study discusses no cases of hires with wives or sisters as lessors.
(16.) YOS 13 207 and BM 97463.
(17.) YOS 13 385 and TLOB 22.
(18.) BDHP 47, CT 48 95, and TLOB 25.
(19.) In BBVOT I 80, Beltani d. Awil-Samas is clearly unrelated to the hiree (Ibni-Marduk s. Ris-Marduk); the fragmentary state of the text makes it possible, however, that Beltani was the hiree and Ibni-Marduk the lessor. In Sollberger JCS 5 971% Eristi-Aya d. Warad-kubi hires Manni-Samas, for whom no paternal name is provided. It strikes me as unlikely that, were they related, this information would not have been expressed.
(20.) Other than the two instances of mothers as lessors, in six cases the lessor is the hiree's father, and in eight cases, a brother.
(21.) Even for nadiatu: see Harris 1962 and Richardson 2010b: 338, sub Table 2C.
(22.) Lautner (1936: 245) briefly considered, but doubted, the possibility of such fictive arrangements. One other unusual aspect of BM 80989 is that--though it is not, strictly speaking, a hiring contract--it would be unique in implying more than one lessor. All of the forty-six texts in Table 2 specify a single lessor.
(23.) Diakonoff (1986: 227-28) saw among period documents from Ur only four types of women appearing in texts who were not "under patriarchal authority": priestesses and paupers (whom he treated together, the latter "probably ... barimtum-prostitute[s]"), "judges of the temple court," and women acting as witnesses.
(24.) In case of widows, their status was also sometimes termed "head of household."
(25.) Westbrook 2001: 36-41.
(26.) YOS 13 360 is dated Sd 2.
(27.) Westbrook 2003: 379.
(28.) Van De Miemop 1992: 216.
(29.) For additional gods see. e.g.. MHET 11 396, 403, 406; for personal names, see, e.g., MHET 11 443, 468, 476, and 514. Samas is also known to have acted as a principal in contracts, mostly loans (e.g.. BM 78491, 81328), in this period: see Veenhof 2004.
(30.) Pongratz-Leisten 2011a: 106, 109; Spaey 1994: 413-14; Porter 2009: 183. A related function may have been to compel truth-telling generally (van Lerberghe 1982: 254). as with a modern witness' oath in a court proceeding. See also the note by Hallo (1981: 255, on 1. 132).
(31.) Spaey's (1994) overview cites no instance of this variation. Ellis (1986: 779) points to an Old Babylonian text from Ishchali published by Greengus (1979: 97, no. 27, pl. XIV). in which an "x-(?)[u.sub.2]-mu-um" ("presumably an emblem") of the god Bel-gaser may be restored--this much is true--acting "probably as a witness." But this cannot be true, since the object is listed (with another divine emblem) on the text's obverse, i.e.. not in the position of a witness.
(32.) That is. a Babylonian oath before a god or testimony before an emblem was not as allusive as the "So help me God" sworn on a Bible in American courts; it required both the physical presence of images and emblems, and the enactment or performance of their participation in legal processes. Gell (1998) would have held this distinction to be one of degree. not kind, but he also insisted that the physicality of secondary agency was important in the symbolic systems of idols, which permitted "real physical interactions to take place between persons and divinities. To treat such interactions as 'symbolic' is to miss the point" (p. 135).
(33.) Asher-Greve 1995: 183.
(34.) CAD S/III s.v. surinnu s. la, from a judicial proceeding near Larsa, involving a [.sup.d] SU.NIR sa [.sup.d]NANNA. [.sup.d]MUSEN sa [.sup.d]NIN.MAR.KI, and a [.sup.d]MAR sa [.sup.d]AMAR.UTU.Other such emblems, however, were sometimes "unaffiliated"--see Owen and Westbrook (1992: 205), discussing a text in which a plaintiff seizes a SUKUR KU.BABBAR--with no divine determinative and no affiliated god; the editors interpolate "(sacred) lance" on analogy to comparable texts.
(35.) CAD s.v. agu A; in Assyrian usage, agu can indicate a deified instrument, as DN [.sup.d]a-gu-u or as [.sup.d]EN.AGA; see Porter 2009: 185-86.
(36.) Translations after CAD B s.v. babtum 1 a)-2'a'; I have omitted the CAD's interpolated "(the assembly of) the ward." See parallel passages quoted sub CAD S/3 s.v. surinnu s. 1 a and U/W s.v. uzuzzu v. 4a, including the use of emblems for oaths in other public or community areas, e.g., at gates and in the cloister; cf. CH [section]126, which stipulates that the accused must take an oath by the god (not his emblem) in a ward proceeding.
(37.) See especially the discussion by Lafont 1998: 253-56, 263-65, 271, 288.
(38.) Oppenheim 1941: 255.
(39.) Cf. Scheil 1928: 43: "la maison et ses limites."
(40.) wasu, waradu+kanu, izuzzum; cf. nasahum, "to pull out," used for the surinnu-emblem (van Lerberghe 1982: 255: Westbrook 2003: 374, 410), and in comparison to still other verbs used for the appearance of emblems in judicial proceedings: izuzzum, erebum, alakum, sakanum, etc.
(41.) Some modest evidence exists to suggest that emblems may have been housed in their own small structures (bitati): See CAD S/III s.v. surinnu s. 1 for references to the E(.MES) of various SU.NIR, as against a (few) setting them in a temple (E DN, e.g., ibid., le and If).
(42.) Ur also revealed other neighborhood "chapels" (e.g., No. 1 Paternoster Row) and household shrines (e.g., No. 2 Church Lane): see Van De Mieroop 1992: 138-41, 145.
(43.) With Schorr a century ago (1913: 378), I read the signs sa i-im/ here, although the sa appears more akin to other /ta/ signs in the text. CAD S/III s.v. surinnu I neither transliterates nor translates these three signs. One possibility is that this is an erroneous writing for sim (< Siamu, "to decree, determine"), which is contextually appropriate to the passage (i.e., "wherever deemed appropriate," or the like), but one would have to blame the scribe. Regardless, ema implies the variability of where a symbol might be erected.
(44.) Yoffee (1978: 27-29) understood the "extended families" of a balm to imply kinship relations "having very little to do with exclusive biological descent relationships. but rather the formulation of political and social allegiances between groups."
(45.) Seri 2005: 187: earlier, she writes, p. 170: "Unfortunately. I could not find any document where the elders, the city, or the balmum appear in close connection with the assembly." See also Westbrook 2003: 366. Dombradi (1996: 18-19) notes the legal appearance of the babtum also in VS 756 (Ad 24), VS 18 1 (RS 55), VS 7 16 (SI 3), CT 2 1 (n.d.), and CT 2 9 (Si 6).
(46.) Spaey (1994: 414-15) has already drawn attention to the dispute-resolution function of the emblems of Samas.
(47.) That the writing appears as se'am mu-us-ke-ne-tim (= muskenutu) calls this reading of mustabiltu into question. as CAD M/2 admits.
(48.) Pongratz-Leisten (2011a: 107-8) has in this connection astutely recalled that divine standards served as city-emblems in various third-millennium contexts.
(49.) Though "double-crowns" are also known, they were normally for individual gods, not shared: see CAD All s.v. aga A la--I'. AGA.AGA, a "double-crown(?) of Zababa," and la-2'. 2 AGA.MES [.sup.d]EN.ZU. a "double tiara of Sin." Conversely, see ibid., citing BBSt. pl. 98: AGA [.sup.d]Samas mussi 2, "crown of Samas ... two (wr. next to the crown of Samas)," seemingly a second or alternate crown for this deity, perhaps with the implication that it had previously been lost or forgotten (muni).
(50.) These images are very consistent in supplying the crown of Samas with four horns and a slightly rounded top. Bahrani 2007: 158; Munn-Rankin 1959: 22; al-Gailani Werr 1978: 62-63, but noting elsewhere (1986: 463) that sealings of this Late Old Babylonian period tended to simplify divine crowns by replacing them with mere "pointed caps."
(51.) See Porada 1948: II. nos. 394, 399, 401, 402, and (most clearly) 421 (Pls. LVII-LVIII, LX) for these instances--five from among thirty-three images of Samas (compare with image no. 12 in Boehmer [1975: 432]). The earlier Akkadian period images of this god (Porada 1948: nos. 178-94) reveal no such emblem surmounting the crown. Unfortunately, none of the seals can be provenanced, with the probable exception of no. 399, the epigraph of which points to an Uruk origin; cf. Buchanan 1981. especially nos. 749, 816, and 956, where the figure of Samas is epigraphically labeled.
(52.) An early temple hymn describes Samas of the Ebabbar as "tying on a [SUH.sub.10]-crown at night." but this is even less informative: all kinds of deities, kings, and even temple personnel are identified in Sumerian literature as wearing this type of crown. and we have no idea what it looked like.
(53.) Winter 1994: 128.
(54.) Berlejung (1998: 40-41) makes exactly this point.
(55.) Ibid.: 165. 183-84: Porter suggests that it was the active power of the weapon that made it appropriate to oath-enforcement. The composition "Gilgames. Enkidu and the Netherworld" (ETCSL 188.8.131.52) has a fragmentary variant WET 6 60) which may allude to a practice of touching the crown of Samas, apparently as a form of welcome into the palace for the people of Uruk; cf. Spaey (1994: 412): in Elam. "the litigant who 'touched' the [emblem] lost the divine protection ..."
(56.) Asher-Greve 1995: 185-86; e.g.. an epithet of Utu of Larsa is "grandly suitable for the shining crown" (MEN.KU.GA [GAL.BI] TUM.MA); Frayne 1990: 157.
(57.) Frayne 1990: 335 (E184.108.40.206), 348 (E220.127.116.11), and 413 (E18.104.22.168). There are no mentions of divine crowns among inscriptions of this dynasty.
(58.) The year names Samsuiluna 6a/b and 33 and Ammiditana 01 and 02 put these divinities together, principally as the gods commanding royal acts.
(59.) Harris 1968: 728 and nn. 7 and 11; in addition to the texts she adduces for Marduk cult personnel at Sippar in this time, we can add BE 6/1 84 and 104. OLA 21 87, and BM 79643 (all with one or more lukur [.sup.d]Marduk); MHET 11 4 475 (nar.sa [.sup.d]Marduk); TLOB 45 and 86 (sanga [.sup.d]Marduk; perhaps also YBC 5595). BM 78577 (As 09), an unpublished partial repayment for a credit sale of crown wool, was co-witnessed by Samas and Marduk rather than Samas and Aya: that the payment is stipulated to be brought to Babylon from Sippar is probably relevant (Richardson 2002: II.215).
(60.) These greetings are found, passim, in many of the letters in AbB 11, 12, 13, and 14, among others.
(61.) Porter 2009: 184-85.
(62.) Pongratz-Leisten 2011 b: 144-45; Gell 1998: 16-17, 20.
(63.) Gell 1998: 21.
(64.) Gell 1998: 20.
(65.) Gell (1998: 20-21, 116-17) makes an argument for a bidirectionality in objects used as secondary agents: they were not only instruments of primary agents, but also constituted their identities, becoming indispensible components of those agents. In this sense, the crowns could be seen as extensions of their gods, yes; but the gods would not have quite been the gods without their crowns, either.
(66.) See Harris 1965; Spaey 1994: 413-16; van Lerberghe 1982; Richardson 2010a: nos. 65, 65a, and 65b; see also, e.g., AbB 13 115, in which the work allotments of laborers are to be verified "in the presence of the symbol of ama."
(67.) Spaey 1994: 413-14.
(68.) T. Oman in discussion: Porter 2009: 204.
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
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|Publication:||The Journal of the American Oriental Society|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2012|
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